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Winners of CoMO's Art Competition: A picture is worth a thousand words

To commemorate the WHO's launch of the Roadmap to Defeat Meningitis by 2030, CoMO held an art competition among its members. With 87 members spanning 43 countries, we invited our network to submit works that creatively express the impacts of meningitis and why we must defeat the disease as a way to celebrate this historic moment. We were thrilled to receive amazing entries from all over the world and to now be able to share these with you, along with announcing the five winners.

Art is so powerful because, while subjective, it is universal. No matter where you are in the world, art is often able to convey more than words can adequately express. With a disease as life-changing as meningitis, art can form a means in which someone can find their voice, recognise the impact of the disease, and convey their experience in a unique way.

For Oriana, art helped support her after her own experience with meningitis at the age of 27, which led to the permanent damage of her optic nerves. She's now partially sighted but she never stopped drawing. Her artwork offers a window into how she now perceives the world. For Sam, she started to create art when she was in a hospital room as a child. She survived bacterial meningitis at ten months old, leading to a lifetime of surgeries aiming to correct the damage that meningitis did to her body in just one day. Today, both Sam and Oriana are accomplished artists and professionals and we reached out to them to see if they would like to help us inspire members ahead of the art competition. The artwork they created is incredible - you can find Oriana's here and Sam's here and the links will also allow you to learn more about their experiences with the disease and life after meningitis.

Now, to announce the five winners of the competition!

Turkey Meningitis Information Center

"Sometimes solutions are very close and we just need a pair of hands to lead us to them. It is possible to reach the light from darkness with the right treatment."

- Oznur, the artist (Turkey)

This incredibly detailed drawing features a doctor with a vaccine as they aim to protect the baby in their arms from meningitis. The attention to detail in this work is phenomenal and we love the subject matter!

Babies are the most at-risk of meningitis, with meningitis and neonatal sepsis together killing more under 5's than malaria, measles and tetanus combined. Prevention through vaccination is a way to help ensure our most vulnerable are protected.

Care and Development Centre (CADEC)

This piece, submitted on behalf of CADEC in Nigeria, pictures Favour, a meningitis survivor who has experienced limb loss as a result of the disease. We love this piece, it accurately displays the serious and life-changing impact meningitis can have, not just for an individual, but for their whole family.

Nigeria lies on the "meningitis-belt" of Africa, a range of countries where meningitis frequently causes devastating epidemics. The Roadmap will help minimise the toll of these outbreaks by seeking to improve epidemic response, meningitis surveillance and prevention.

“Nobody deserves the trauma associated with meningitis. Having lost her limbs to meningitis as a teenager, poor Favour finds it so difficult to fully support her children in their daily chores and as a single mother. She feels so bad looking at her teenage daughter assuming the roles of a mother. In view of this, Favour wants meningitis defeated, so that no one else would go through the traumatic experiences which she has undergone and still going through. Kudos to the World Health Organization and other stakeholders that have made the Roadmap to Defeat Meningitis by 2030 possible. Nobody deserves to go through the plights and trauma of meningitis and it's aftermath."

- Rhoda, Founder of CADEC (Nigeria).

Méningites France - Association Audrey

"This is a piece of art created for our meningitis association by a collection of artists. It shows the advancement of science - crucial to defeating meningitis!"

- Jimmy, Co-Founder of Méningites France - Association Audrey (France)

This artwork isn't just one painting but three paintings next to each other! This beautiful and elaborate triptych displays the essential role science must play to defeat meningitis. Scientific advancements have already had transformative effects in the fight to defeat the disease - in just 15 years, the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccine have together saved the lives of more than 1.4 million children under the age of five. We look forward to see how scientific advancements improve prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and aftercare in the coming years!

Japan Child Meningitis Organisation

"There are children living now and others returned into the light. All children are the existence of love and iridescent light. I wish for a prosperous world where all children can be in smiles and I pray for hope toward 2030."

- Ms Koguchi, the artist (Japan)

This work pictures a child fighting against meningitis, surrounded by rainbows. This vibrant copper engraving was created by the mother of a girl who recovered from bacterial meningitis. We love how original and colourful this piece is! It's bursting with hope.

Meningitis has rarely been considered a health priority despite how many people it affects each year, meaning progress against it lags behind other vaccine-preventable diseases. That's why the WHO's Roadmap is so exciting, it's the first time meningitis has been on the global agenda! This has helped drive political will, necessary if we are to defeat meningitis.

Brain Child Trust

"Know your symptoms! Acting fast will save lives! I created this to spread awareness and help prevent any child or family from going through the pains of meningitis."

- Indira, the artist (India)

This piece pictures the signs and symptoms of meningitis and how they often present in babies and toddlers. We love this piece, not only because it's accurate and well-drawn, but because creating signs and symptoms infographics is an essential way to raise awareness of meningitis. Meningitis progresses very quickly and the initial symptoms can often be confused for less serious diseases. Being aware that meningitis can present itself with these symptoms and cause a rapid deterioration in someone's condition can help ensure rapid treatment.

We all have a role to play to defeat meningitis by 2030. Anyone can be an advocate and you don't need to be a scientist or a doctor to get involved. As you've seen from these incredible works of art, art is also a powerful means to raise awareness, to make people stop and think about how meningitis affects others and what they can do to protect themselves and those around them.

Beyond the five winners' entries above, we were lucky enough to receive many more stunning pieces! We hope you'll take the time to view all the entries we received for the competition in the video below.

A huge thanks to everyone for their submissions! We were blown away by all of the talent.

The public gallery where these artworks are hosted on will be open indefinitely. Whether you want to honour a lost loved one, submit artwork about your meningitis experience, or even a song, you can submit your message whenever you want right here.

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